Friday, April 6, 2007

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind; drama, USA, 1939; D: Victor Fleming, S: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, Barbara O'Neil

Tara, Georgia, 1861. Scarlett O'Hara is the eldest of three daughters of Irish immigrants. It seems she is the most popular girl in area since every guy adores her, except Ashley Wilkes who doesn't even notice her. She falls in love with him, but is surprised when she hears he is going to marry Melanie. After the Civil War starts, Ashley goes to fight. In order to always be near Melania, in case he returns to her, Scarlett volunteers as a nurse in Atlanta. After the Northern army marches in, the cynical playboy Rhett Butler evacuates them to safety. Back home at Tara, Scarlett is shocked to find out her mother died, her father became mad and that everything was robbed from the soldiers. Ashley finally returns from the war to Melanie, while Scarlett marries the rich Frank in order to pay the tax for the plantage. After Frank gets killed, she decides to marry Rhett. They always argue, because Rhett is aware she is still in love with Ashley. They have a daughter, but she dies in an accident. Rhett can't stand Scarlett's arrogance, so he leaves her. Finally, she realizes she has been in love with him all the time.

Monumental, four hours long drama, winner of 9 Oscars, "Gone with the Wind" became the higest grossing movie of the century - over 200,000,000 tickets were sold at the North American box office,  which was more than the entire population of the country at that time, a record still held till this day - and the critics also placed it as a great film. It is an interesting (anti) romantic drama with a good style that fills its long story with nice little details, making it more appealing, from the first scene where a kid is chasing after a turkey up to the final shot in which Scarlett O'Hara stays alone, watching the the Sun setting - and her love disappearing. The whole story is one giant allegory about the curse of people who always want those things they cannot have - Scarlett was loved by every man around, but she just wanted Ashley who never much cared for her - but also a transformation of the heroine from a rich lady to a poor conniver, yet she never changed in one thing, in her spoiled nature, making her a tragic figure. The highlights are humorous: for instance, when Scarlett pretends that she is crying in order to prevent Ashley from leaving or when Rhett masks a wounded Ashley as a drunk, in order to smuggle him pass the soldiers.

And despite the fact that the whole movie is rather conventional and standard, it still seems intriguing and true in portraying some human characteristics. Rhett Butler, played brilliantly by Clark Gable, is truly an interesting character, a womanizer who in the end announces to his favorite prostitute that he will not be able to see her ever again because he decided to become a respectable father, but Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara simply steals the show - she is clever, naughty and confused, not even ashamed, for instance, to marry any guy as soon as possible in panic, after her beloved Ashley left to fight in the war. Still, the movie is not perfect - true, it is excellent, but still a little bit overrated. At some parts it looks just like a long soap opera, especially in the last hour which is full of problematic, sentimenal and melodramatic elements (the daughter dying from a fall from a pony). But many hate the film just because everyone else loves it, and that is not an argument. "Gone with the Wind" is a big film, but it also did not forget to make his characters and their emotions big: the final scene ("Tomorrow is another day...") is iconic precisely because it tells that, even though Scarlett lost everything, as long as she is alive, her story goes on, which was seen as a commentary on humanity as a whole.


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